Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Words, Order, and Sacrament

Wish I was more polished in my speaking. An amendment was on the floor today that would change a major re-working of the section of the Discipline that determines the membership on general boards and agencies. The legislation was a needed clarification of several different changes made in the last couple of general conferences.

A big change was to proportional representation for the jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction is to have basic representation, but then there are additional members (at large members). The guidelines of the petition before us said that those members of the agency would be apportioned to the jurisdictions based on the membership size of the jurisdictions. (In effect, the Southeastern Jurisdiction, the largest American jurisdiction, would have more members on the boards and agencies.) The amendment before us was to remove the proportional representation from the legislation.

One speaker said that proportional representation was not fair representation. I think it is. We had in the legislation the concept that every area has basic representation (like our US Senate) so that then the at-large members could be apportioned the way we do representation in the US House of Representatives. I spoke against the amendment.

Whether my speech helped or hurt, I do not know, but the amendment failed and the legislation was approved. I was pleased with the outcome, but as I sat in my chair afterwards, I realized there were many people who felt (even if the facts said otherwise) they would be “left out.” I wondered how I could have been more gracious to acknowledge this in speaking for my position.
Well, I know you just have to do the best you can do in these situations and then let it go. But I also know we have many sensitive issues still ahead of us and some of them carry strong emotional attachments. I know also we have to speak what we feel is right. So my prayer for myself, and for all of us: God, give us to speak words that are strong in understanding, mighty in truth, and soothing in grace, Amen.

On a more positive note, I stayed at the lunch break for the communion service, held in the center of the convention hall. It was renewing to break bread in that small group of fellow disciples from all over the world.

Come to the Lord's Table, all you who love him.
Come to the Lord's Table, confess your sin.
Come to the Lord's Table, be at peace.


Rev Graysox said...

Hey Chief, no worries...somehow I managed to watch the exact time that you were speaking...I felt like you were eloquent and well spoken...I believe that what you said about the local church level being the starting point for ministry was very well stated...that should be inclusive to everyone...keep up the good work...God bless and we are praying for you all!

roadtripray said...

I'm sure you did a wonderful job. It's always nerve-wracking to be speaking in front of so many people, and unlike the pulpit where you have a 20 minute block of time to make a good point along with your rationale, you were under pressure to be succinct.

I agree with your point and analogy of the US Senate and the US House of Representatives. I think it is very fair. One way to look at it is that it's yet another incentive to grow the smaller conferences. Of course, you'd think the great commission would suffice as an incentive, but now I'm getting started on a whole other can of worms.